Mental Health Appeal

March 2010

In February we made an appeal for funding for our mental health project (see below). The good response from our supporters enabled us to put on a workshop, described here by Daphne Sanders of FHM:

Friends House Moscow sponsors Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Training

In mid-March 2010 a three-day training workshop took place in Moscow for psychiatrists, psychologists, students in those disciplines, and carers. It was an unusual seminar in at least two respects: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is not generally practised in Russia, and joint training opportunities including carers are unusual. In fact, carers and students attended on day 1 only, the introductory day, and days 2 and 3 were for practising professionals. There was an attendance of 50 on each day, surpassing the hopes of the organisers. Publicity had been by email and posting on a web-site, but it seemed that some had come as a consequence of word of mouth, an encouraging indication of a desire to expand treatment options for patients with mental disorders, particularly those with psychotic symptoms, which was the focus of the training.

The mental health service consists of medication, and hospitalisation in traditional institutions. Attendants, rather than professional nurses, look after patients, and social workers and occupational therapists play little part. Human rights abuses arise from the weak legal protections for patients.

Aleksei Odolamskii, a psychologist, and Vera Balabanova, a psychiatrist, spent a month in 2005 at The Retreat, the Quaker psychiatric hospital in York, in order to learn how they treated patients with psychotic symptoms. Vera described this as the best month of her life! Since then, together with a small group of other psychologists, they have run a weekly psychotherapy group for outpatients with a diagnosis of psychosis. They expressed the need for skills in working with people who are hearing voices. CBT can provide a patient with skills to manage their symptoms more effectively: it is a potentially empowering treatment.

Dr Sara Tai, a clinical psychologist and academic from Manchester University generously provided her time free of charge, travelling and visa expenses were met by FHM, and the professionals provided hospitality. Dr Tai reported that the group was engaged, and willing to work on their own case material, the carers reported general interest (but found sitting alongside professionals unfamiliar and rather difficult), and the professionals reported a high level of interest and appreciation. The major question is now the next step from here!

February 2010

We are launching a new appeal:

Mental health project in Russia

Mental health services in Russia are largely limited to medication and hospitalisation in traditional institutions. The professions of nursing, social work and occupational therapy are as yet under-developed in the mental health field in Russia; the same goes for the legal framework. With support from The Retreat, the Quaker psychiatric hospital in York, a small number of psychiatrists and psychologists in Moscow have embarked on pioneering psychosocial interventions with patients who are diagnosed with psychoses.

£2,000 of funding is sought for a training event in Moscow. It will use British clinicians, who are giving their time free of charge. In addition, preliminary work is being done with a view to develop a project to support carers in establishing community facilities for individuals with mental disorders, and this will require funding as well.

To contribute to this work from the UK please send your cheque or charity voucher, payable to Friends House Moscow, to: James Eddington, Brynmawr, Westbourne Drive, Lancaster LA1 5EE. Enquiries: 07969 736180.
From elsewhere in Europe funds can be transferred directly as follows:
BIC CPBK GB22
IBAN GB52 CBPK 0892 9965 0368 99
Sort code: 08-92-99
Account: 65036899
Account Name: Friends House Moscow
Contact name: James Eddington